David Butler

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the poet

David Butler's third poetry collection, Liffey Sequence, was published in 2021 – the same year as his second short story collection, Fugitive. His novel, City of Dis, was shortlisted for Irish Novel of the Year 2015.

the poems

Distancing

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                  Now we are wintering – the whole hive stupefied

                  to silence, each in their cell who isn’t soldiering,

                  an inmate of a new Shalott – the cities, simulacra:

                  drone-shot piazzas; enchanted palaces; empty

                  trainset trains; vistas dreamed by de Chirico;

                  traffic lights sequencing the memory of traffic –

                  confined while, ineluctably, somewhere else,

                  the toll, the toll, until we’re numbed by

                  the scale of it; each week, the heat and bustle

                  more distant, more unlikely; nothing to feed

                  but waxing apprehension: what will eclose

                  this long cocooning, and on what tentative wings?

And then the sun
broke through

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                  A sea of jade and muscatel; the sky, gun-metal.

                  Landward, the storm-portending birds, white-lit,

                  Riding wild contours of wind, uplift

                  To tilt at the raucous crows. This

                  Is how it is to live, the ticker tells,

                  Looping the floor of the newsfeed.

                  Somewhere, an outrage; an airstrike;

                  Somewhere, a politic withdrawal. This

                  Is how it is to live: the wind blowing

                  The charcoal of crows’ feathers;

                  The rent in the clouds; oblique tines beating

                  Sudden ochre out of a sullen ocean.

These Are Not Days

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                  These are not days, they are shadows

                  flitting over the too-familiar ground,

                  dry and rubble strewn,

                  where our choices are buried.


                  These are not days, these shades,

                  tremulous, mere changes of light.

                  Quiet as thieves, as witnesses,

                  they slip past in silent legion.


                  Count them up, and they come to years,

                  but years empty of substance.

                  They are the dry husks of our lives,

                  the whisper inside the hourglass.


                  Days are not the coinage of will,

                  as once we imagined.

                  One day they rise like locusts,

                  to devour us.

Publishing credits

Distancing / These Are Not Days: Liffey Sequence (Doire Press)

And then the sun broke through: All the Barbaric Glass

  (Doire Press)